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History & Culture

China’s East Lake Cherry Blossom Garden, sweat and tears of the unsung hero from Aomori




青森県の樹木医の先駆者である青森県樹木医会 専務理事 斎藤 嘉次雄さんは、20年来、中国の武漢市「東湖桜花園」の桜の栽培管理に携わってきた。

In Mainland China, there is a cherry blossom spot in Wuhan city known as East Lake Cherry Blossom Garden which is similar to Hirosaki Park located in Aomori, Japan. Both of these parks have magnificent scenery and also famous around the globe as a cherry blossom sight-seeing area.

For 20 years, Kojio Saito, Executive Director of Aomori Prefecture’s Tree Doctors Association and a pioneer of tree physicians in Aomori Prefecture, has been involved in the cultivation and management of cherry blossoms in the East Lake Cherry Blossom Garden of Wuhan City, China.


In 1997, local Michinoku Bank opened a branch office in Wuhan City. With this opportunity they had requested Mr. Saito to create a cherry blossom garden that is comparable to the one in Washington, United States of America.


In China tradition plum and peach flowers are the main and more likely to be appreciate rather than cherry blossoms. Hence, how to grow cherry blossoms was a question and an unknown in China’s society. Growing cherry blossoms in China was a big challenge and series of hardships. The weather is not suitable for the growth of the flower causing different kind of struggles.

And when Mr. Saito role comes into play, he taught them how to cut branches and doing improvement to the soil to make it more suitable for the plantation. In 2001, East Lake Cherry Blossom Garden in Wuhan City was completed and opened to public. More than 10,000 cherry blossom trees, such as Somei Yoshino and fern cherry blossoms, are planted on an area (about 20 h) comparable to 4 Tokyo Dome (4.7 h).





In May 1998, a Chinese engineer visited Hirosaki, Aomori for training, and hence friendship between cherry blossoms in the daytime was created. But then, banks withdrew from this business. After that, Saito-san could not visit China for about two years. Causing the process of completing the plantation cherry blossoms of Wuhan to be delayed.

From the year 2013 onwards, Saito-san began to carry the Wuhan cherry blossoms at his own expense.

The desire of continuing and not give up on the exchange of knowledge about cherry blossom was present at that very moment.




The soil of the East Lake Cherry Blossom Garden is clayey, poorly drained, and the cherry root is rotten and so replacement of the soil was carried out to protect the roots one by one. Mr. Saito searched for the most suitable soil for cherry blossoms in various parts of China along with Chinese cherry blossom protectors. Peat moss (soil conditioner) and lignite were needed. Pete moss was arranged and taken from Heilongjiang province.

Since 2017, volunteers from Aomori who have resonated with Saito-san’s activities offered to cooperate in terms of funding. With 20 years of management and supervision by Mr. Saito, it is said that in 2018, there were about 2.5 million visitors that’s had visited the park.


今では、中国有数の桜の名所に育て上げた、樹木医 斎藤 嘉次雄さんは、今後も、年2回ほど桜の管理に訪れ、後継者も育てていくという。

Many people would get to enjoy the cherry blossom sight viewing this year.

For now, the tree doctor Kojio Saito, who has been the key man who raised one of China’s leading cherry blossom spots, will visit the cherry blossoms park twice a year and will also entrust the knowledge of growing cherry blossom to his successors.



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